Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

New gas-signature models can help inspectors locate and identify underground nuclear tests

March 16, 2016

Through experiments and computer models of gas releases, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have simulated signatures of gases from underground nuclear explosions (UNEs) that may be carried by winds far from the point of detonation.

The work will help international inspectors locate and identify a clandestine UNE site within a 1,000 square kilometer search area during an on-site inspection that could be carried out under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Jordan recently hosted such a simulated inspection, the Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14), sponsored by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and involving more than 40 countries, which tested some aspects of noble gas signature detection.

In addition, the technique can potentially help interpret noble gas (radioactive xenon isotopes) signals captured in the atmosphere following UNEs such as the North Korean test that occurred in January 2015.

The research also led to the development of the LLNL Smart Sampler, which was originally designed as a research instrument to automatically capture gases reaching the surface in remote locations following release of gas tracers underground. During its IFE14 exercise, the CTBTO deployed three of these samplers, which were designed and built by Lab engineers Steven Hunter and David Ruddle at LLNL.

NIF Target Milestones and Key Partnerships Celebrated

September 19, 2014

Two important milestones achieved by the NIF&PS and Weapons and Complex Integration (WCI) directorates' Target Fabrication Team and their key partnerships were celebrated on September 19, 2014.

Lab earns high grade in OPCW proficiency test

April 24, 2014

Come October every year, a corps of about 18 Lab chemists and other first-rate researchers from around the world face the challenge of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' (OPCW) proficiency tests.

Livermore's chemists, like those from 21 other laboratories in different nations, attempt to identify any "suspected" chemical weapons compounds in six samples within a 15-day period.

To maintain their certification, LLNL and other OPCW-designated laboratories must maintain a three-year rolling average of at least two "A" grades and one "B" in ongoing proficiency tests. LLNL recently received its grade - an "A" - for last fall's proficiency test.

LLNL is part of organization that received recent Nobel Peace Prize

(from Notes from the Director, week ending 12/13/13)

Representatives of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize on Dec. 10, 2013 in Oslo, Norway, and did so in large measure because of the contributions from 21 scientific laboratories around the world, including LLNL. (The Lab has been a certified OPCW laboratory since 2003.)